If nothing else, this week’s series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays brought a bit of intrigue based solely on the fact that these teams don’t see each other too often. The two teams have only faced each other six times during the last eight years, with the COVID-19 pandemic throwing things off in 2020 when the AL East would’ve been playing the NL Central.
On top of that, the last game the Cardinals won at the Trop was back in 2014. Don’t suspend me for saying that.
Here are the lineups for the Cardinals and Rays Tuesday night:
- Lars Nootbaar, LF
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Nolan Gorman, 2B
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Alec Burleson, DH
- Jordan Walker, RF
- Dylan Carlson, CF
- Tommy Edman, SS
Miles Mikolas - SP
And the Rays:
- Yandy Diaz, 1B
- Wander Franco, SS
- Brandon Lowe, 2B
- Randy Arozarena, LF
- Isaac Paredes, 3B
- Luke Raley, DH
- Jose Siri, CF
- Josh Lowe, RF
- Christian Bethancourt, C
Zach Eflin - SP
In a fast-paced game that lasted just 2 hours and 13 minutes and that Rob Manfred would have drooled over, the Rays broke through against an uber-efficient Mikolas in the seventh, and really busted it open once he was pulled. Andre Pallante had one of his worst outings of his career behind Mikolas, and Arenado was a few feet away from turning a one-homer game into a three-homer game. So is life.
Here’s a quick recap, packaged and ready before 8:30 for you tonight for a change.
The Cardinals went down in order in the top of the first inning against Eflin — Nootbaar grounded out to short and both Goldschmidt and Gorman struck out.
Yandy Diaz led it off for the Rays and ripped a single up the middle that deflected off of Mikolas. Franco hit next and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to clear the bases, started by Gorman over at second base. Mikolas struck out Brandon Lowe to end the inning.
Arenado jumped on an 0-1 sinker from Eflin and hit a screaming line drive to left field that never went more than 10 feet off the ground at any point, but had enough steam to clear the left field wall — barely. Arenado’s 24th homer of the year had an exit velocity of 107 mph, and made it 1-0 Cardinals in the second inning.
Each of the next three Cardinals got out — Contreras grounded out to third, Burleson popped out to third, and Walker struck out looking.
Arozarena led off the second with a base hit to right. After Paredes flew out to shallow center, Raley snuck a ground ball through the right side for a hit as well, putting two on with one out. However, Mikolas dug deep and was able to punch out Siri and Josh Lowe back-to-back to end the inning.
Eflin struck out Carlson and got Edman to fly out for two quick outs. Nootbaar stepped in and struck a full count cutter deep into the right field gap, and the ball fell perfectly behind a diving Siri and a diving Lowe, and rolled to the fence. Nootbaar raced around the bases and stopped at third with a two-out triple. He didn’t score, though, as Goldschmidt grounded out to third for the third out.
A six-pitch third inning for Mikolas — Betancourt tried to reach base via bunt, but pushed it too far towards Mikolas who threw him out at first base. Yandy Diaz dropped a single deep down the right field line, but Jordan Walker grabbed it off the first bounce, spun and threw a dart to second, where Edman caught the throw and tagged out Diaz trying to stretch it into a double. Franco grounded out to first base to end the inning with St. Louis still up, 1-0.
A quick and painless top of the fourth for Eflin — Gorman struck out again, Arenado flew out to right field, a few steps in front of the wall, and Contreras grounded out.
After a six-pitch third inning, it was an eight-pitch fourth inning for Mikolas. Brandon Lowe popped out in foul territory, Arozarena grounded out to short, and Paredes did the same.
Alec Burleson led off the fifth inning and swung at the first pitch he saw from Eflin, lifting a fly ball high and deep towards the left field foul pole. Arozarena got under it but either lost it in the ceiling of the Trop or just took his eye off it, as the ball dropped and bounced off the wall for a leadoff double. Unfortunately for St. Louis Burleson did not leave second base. Walker struck out, Carlson flew out to shallow right field, and Edman struck out looking.
Mikolas continued to plow through the Tampa Bay lineup with absurd efficiency, getting through the fifth with seven pitches. Raley popped out to first, Siri grounded out to third, and Josh Lowe popped out to short.
Nootbaar led off the sixth and grounded out to second, followed by a Goldschmidt groundout as well. Gorman broke up the monotony with a base hit to left-center field, but Arenado’s fly ball with two outs once again died just a step in front of the wall — this time in left — to end the inning. Arenado was about eight feet away from having home runs in each of his first three at bats tonight against Eflin.
Bethancourt singled to left field to start the bottom of the sixth against Mikolas, and Diaz went the other way to right field for a knock to put two on with nobody out. But Mikolas was able to dance the dance and escape the jam, getting Franco to ground into a 4-6-3 double play and a strikeout of Brandon Lowe to end the inning with St. Louis still up, 1-0.
Eflin came back out for the seventh and struck out Contreras for the first out of the inning. Burleson flew out to left field for the second out, and then Walker hit a sizzling ground ball to Lowe at second. He was there in plenty of time to make a play, but the ball must’ve had some funky spin on it as Tampa Bay’s second baseman had to dive last second to adjust to it, and the ball went off his glove. He was charged with an error. Carlson popped out to third base for the third out of the seventh.
Mikolas got Randy Arozarena to ground out to begin the bottom of the seventh, but was not as lucky with the next batter, Paredes. The Rays third baseman reached out and muscled a 2-1 slider way out to left field, landing in the sixth row of seats for a game-tying solo homer. It traveled 383 feet and was his 22nd homer of the season. After the homer, Mikolas struck out Raley and got Siri to fly out to shallow left to end the inning and keep things tied up, 1-1.
Eflin’s final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K’s (99 pitches)
Right-hander Jason Adam jogged in from the bullpen for the Rays, making his 48th appearance of the season. He walked the first batter he saw, Tommy Edman. Then, with Nootbaar batting, Edman tried to steal second but was thrown out at second by Betancout on a perfect throw that landed right in Franco’s glove, which was waiting for Edman on the first base side of the bag. It was just the second time Edman had been thrown out this season, in 17 attempts.
Nootbaar walked as well, making that two walks for Adam through two batters. But he bounced back to strike out Goldschmidt for the second out. Gorman stepped in next and crushed a 2-2 slider to dead center field, but it was caught by a streaking Jose Siri, who ran straight back and leapt up to make the play at the wall, crashing into the padding 405 feet from the plate.
With his pitch count still very low, Mikolas came back out for the eighth. The first batter he saw was Josh Lowe, who smacked an 0-1 curveball deep into left-center field, near the spot where the wall juts out just a bit. Carlson ran the ball down all the way to the wall, but was unable to make a similar catch as Siri, as the ball hit off the base of the wall. Carlson crashed into the wall, and by the time he was able to locate the baseball, Lowe had jogged in to third base with a leadoff triple.
St. Louis brought the infield in, and rather than let Mikolas continue with a pitch count of 80, Oli Marmol went to Andre Pallante in search of a ground ball. Pallante got one from the first batter, as pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez grounded out softly to Goldschmidt at first base.
However, Diaz’s ground ball did not find anyone’s glove, as the All-Star ripped an ankle-high slider right back up the middle for an RBI single, scoring Lowe and putting Tampa Bay up 2-1.
Things continued to get worse for Pallante, as each of the next two batters — Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, and Arozarena — each reached base as well, with Lowe and Arozarena each driving in runs to make it 4-1 Rays.
Mercifully, Marmol pulled Pallante from the game and brought in Drew VerHagen, who has yet to give up an earned run this month. He walked Paredes to load the bases with one out, but got Raley to ground into a force out at home plate (grounder to first, Goldschmidt going home) and struck out Siri to end the eighth inning.
Mikolas’ final line: 7+ IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K’s (80 pitches)
Kevin Cash brought in 6-foot-6 right-hander Pete Fairbanks to close the game with the Rays up, 4-1. Arenado flew out lazily to right field for the first out of the inning — his first at bat that wasn’t loud. Contreras hit next and worked an 11-pitch battle against the hard-throwing Fairbanks. After taking multiple pitches at or above 99 mph, Contreras was able to golf a 100 mph fastball from Fairbanks just over the right field wall for a solo homer — his 12th of the season.
After the homer, Burleson grounded out to second and Walker struck out swinging to end it.
FINAL: Rays 4, Cardinals 2
St. Louis (49-65) continues its search for a win at Tropicana Field tomorrow night against the Rays (69-46). Dakota Hudson (2-0, 4.10 ERA) will look to build off of his seven-inning outing from last week. Tampa Bay had not announced a starter as of game time this evening. First pitch is set for 5:40 p.m.
Around the Central
Marlins 3, Reds 2 - TOP 9
Pirates 6, Braves 5 - BOT 6
Rockies 1, Brewers 1 -BOT 1